Created by the Center for Spirituality & Healing and Charlson Meadows.

Dermal Friction

What is dermal friction?

Dermal friction therapy (called "gua sha" and pronounced "gwa shaw") is a method that involves increasing circulation at the surface of the skin by means of "scraping" the skin vigorously with a blunt edged object.

TCM practitioners usually use dermal friction therapy on the back, neck and shoulders, or the fleshy part of the limbs. The practitioner will often first apply a lubricant, such as sesame oil, Vaseline, or tiger balm, to the skin before scraping the area with the smooth, blunt edge of an object, such as a coin or the lip of a juice glass (a ceramic soup spoon is traditionally used in Asia).

Dermal friction therapy is usually done along one or more of the acupuncture channels, in a direction away from the center of the body, in short brisk strokes until the surface of the skin is well reddened, but not broken.

When is it used?

Practitioners use dermal friction as a way of treating early stage colds and flu, muscle pain, headache, and fever. It is also frequently used as a home remedy in the treatment of fevers associated with colds and flu, and is especially favored in the treatment of children.

Expert Contributor: 
Christopher Hafner, L.Ac.

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